'Consciously' biased BBC contributed to Tory election win, Labour MP says
The BBC was partly responsible for Labour‘s crushing defeat in last week’s general election, a shadow minister has claimed.
Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, said the broadcaster had been “consciously” biased during the campaign and suggested that its executives should “have a look in the mirror”.
He said the BBC had “played a part” in Labour losing and claimed that Jeremy Corbyn had been “vilified” and “much maligned”.
Download the new Indpendent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Mr Corbyn led his party to its worst performance in any general election in 75 years, forcing him to announce that he would step down early next year.
The party was quickly engulfed by a furious row over the timetable for electing his replacement, with many of Mr Corbyn’s critics demanding that he step down immediately to make way for an interim leader.
Allies of the current leader are proposing that the race to replace him should begin formally on 7 January and conclude by the end of March.
Polls have suggested that voters’ dislike of Mr Corbyn was the top reason for many of them abandoning Labour.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today, Mr McDonald claimed that the BBC was partly to blame.
When presenter Justin Webb suggested that the media was not responsible for Mr Corybn’s unpopularity, the shadow minister said: “Don’t get me started on the media Justin. I’m very worried about our public service broadcaster.”
When Mr Webb interjected, he continued: “This is very serious because always when you come to a position like this and you make a criticism, especially of the BBC, you close me down.”
Asked whether he was blaming the BBC for Labour’s defeat, Mr McDonald replied: “I am saying that they played a part. I’m really worried about the drift. You’ve seen the catalogue of criticisms that we’re making.
“We’ve accepted that the print media are reined against us but my goodness me – we’re the important part here, we got this wrong – but if the BBC are going to hold themselves out as somehow having conducted themselves in an impartial manner, I think they’ve really got to have a look in the mirror. We’ve got a lot to say about this.”
Mr McDonald cited a clip of BBC reporter Alex Forsyth talking about Boris Johnson winning the majority “he so deserves”. It is believed that she had meant to say “so desires”.
When Mr Webb asked if he was claiming that the BBC had “consciously” attempted to affect the election result, Mr McDonald said: “I think you played your part, consciously, yes. When you have a BBC presenter standing in front of a television camera saying ‘Boris Johnson is on his way to a richly deserved victory’…how many slips of the tongue are we going to make?”
The shadow minister apologised for Labour’s defeat, saying: “We got this terribly wrong. I want to apologise to everybody: to our members, our activists but also to our public sector workers, our homeless. We got this terribly wrong and we’ve got to take responsibility for it. We’ve got to reflect on exactly how we got it so wrong but we will move on.”
However, he insisted that the next leader must continue Mr Corbyn’s policy direction, which he said was on the “centre ground”.
He said: “Let’s keep to our core values – this misdescription of what we put in that manifesto as being ultra left, it’s utter nonsense. The centre ground is where we live. Sadly our country has shifted so far to the right that anything that recalibrates it seems extreme.”